for quality writing

Ken Borland



Back to school for Saru, who look set to fail again 0

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Ken

 

If the South African Rugby Union were a kid, based on their 2016 performance they would be the one who failed to pass their grade and has to repeat the year, hopefully being shamed into harder work and improvement by the embarrassment of sitting in a class with a bunch of people a year younger than you.

Unfortunately, if I was their teacher in that school, I would be forced to conclude already at this early stage of the year that Saru are doomed to fail again because they are simply repeating the same mistakes.

We are two weeks away from the start of Super Rugby and we still don’t know yet whether Allister Coetzee will continue in his post as Springbok coach. If he does – and that looks likely given how tardy Saru have once again been in sorting out their most important appointment (apart from arguably the CEO, who has done another of his disappearing tricks) – then Coetzee will once again find his planning set back by an administration that seems intent on tying one hand behind his back.

The contracts are apparently in place and the official announcement is supposed to be made in the next week, but we’ve heard that line before.

There is another vital appointment that Saru is also dragging its feet over and one that just creates enormous uncertainty amongst the best junior talent in this country and their parents, many of whom are probably sitting on offers from overseas.

Dawie Theron finished his tenure as national U20 coach in June and a replacement has still not been named. There is a great candidate – both in terms of the success he has achieved with young rugby players and the tremendous transformation message it would send – sitting in Potchefstroom by the name of Jonathan Mokuena, previously a manager of the Junior Springboks side, a winner of the Varsity Cup and a successful coach of the Leopards senior team.

But instead there are strong suggestions Abe Davids, the brother of Saru vice-president Francois Davids, is being lined up for the job.

Former traffic cop Francois Davids is also the president of Boland rugby, the union which suspended Abe Davids in 2014 for faking his coaching qualifications, and has been accused of such nepotism by the clubs in the area that the administration was called the “House of Davids”.

The only good news coming out of Saru lately  is that they have invested in getting Brendan Venter back involved with the Springboks. With him and Franco Smith, working with Matt Proudfoot and Johann van Graan, Coetzee will finally have back-up staff worthy of the Springboks.

Of course the name of Rassie Erasmus still pops up from time to time and the former Springbok and director of rugby has put in a lot of time and effort in plotting his coaching career-path. A leading Afrikaans Sunday newspaper seems be the PR company for his ambitions.

While the dithering and politicking carries on in the Saru boardroom, the All Blacks have already held their first camp together and the gap just widens. One would hope the news that the Springboks could be ranked as low as seventh after the next round of Six Nations matches would shock Saru into decisive action, but the wheels of their bureaucracy turn with the speed of a sloth.

 

Cricket is a strange game but Kingsmead was just stupid 0

Posted on August 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Cricket is, in many ways, a strange game but there is nothing as infuriating than play not taking place when blue skies and bright sunshine are overhead. That was the case in Durban last weekend as the first Test between South Africa and New Zealand was allowed to just die with only 99.4 overs being bowled in the match.

As an endangered species, Test cricket needs to be given utmost support and attention and I firmly believe that where there is a will, there is a way.

Notwithstanding the foolishness of Cricket South Africa digging up the Kingsmead outfield in order to soften it two weeks later than they should have, meaning it struggled to cope with unseasonal heavy rain in Durban, the villains of the peace for me were English umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth, who showed little interest in actually getting play underway, so fixated were they on a few damp patches on the outfield.

The umpires are the final arbiters of what is fair and safe in terms of conditions, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. Both teams were eager to play – in fact the Proteas were gathered on the side of the field shortly after play was finally abandoned on the fifth day eager to have a run-around and get some fitness in, but they were prevented from going on to the field because that would have made the umpires look bad.

I am certain that if it had been an ODI or a T20 match with similar soft areas of outfield, a plan would have been made and the umpires would have done everything in their power to get a game underway.

As usual, the accountability has been shifted to Kingsmead, who never wanted the outfield to be dug up in the first place. The International Cricket Council, as usual, passed the buck. There was absolutely no communication from the match referee, Andy Pycroft, to explain why play was not possible, and he declined to speak to the media. What’s the point of having a match referee if that is their attitude?

To make matter worse, the umpires were so apathetic when it came to making an effort that they actually banned the groundstaff from the field when groundsman Wilson Ngobese and his staff wanted to proceed with mopping up operations, saying they preferred to allow natural processes like sun and wind to run their course.

Week in and week out rugby players are busy making crunching tackles and sidestepping such collisions in often wet conditions, but how often do one of them turn an ankle? With both teams happy to play, the only conclusion is that Gould and Illingworth were being overly precious.

The future of Test cricket may not bother them or Pycroft, but what happened at Kingsmead under their watch was a fiasco and just another small nail in the coffin of the original format of the game.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis spoke earnestly on Friday about how, for them, Test cricket was still the ultimate and it needed better treatment from the ICC.

“Test cricket is still number one for the players and a Test Championship is a step in the right direction. You ask any of the international players and they will tell you that Test cricket is still the best thing to play and we need to play as many Tests as possible.

“You want to be able to say you’ve given everything on the field and that feeling of winning a Test can’t be copied, especially not by T20. I hope the ICC is looking at that,” Du Plessis said.

Sadly, the ICC are more interested in red tape and bureaucracy, and are way more likely to jump up and down about over-rates, sponsors’ logos being too big or a player saying something even mildly controversial in a press conference.

As usual, the administrators seem to think cricket fans are more interested in what they are up to than in the actual game they are meant to be serving.

Deysel recovers quicker than expected & will lead Sharks 0

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Ken

 

Loose forward Jean Deysel will be leading the Sharks out into battle against the Western Force in their SuperRugby match in Durban on Saturday, the Springbok having made a quicker than expected recovery from an ankle injury.

Although Francois Steyn will be playing – and replaces the resting Pat Lambie at flyhalf – because Sanzar’s appeal against his exoneration on a tip-tackle charge will now only take place on Tuesday, coach Gary Gold felt the captaincy would just be an additional burden on a player who has had a troubled start to the season.

Deysel will be no stranger to the captaincy, having captained the Sharks in numerous Currie Cup games as well as in some SuperRugby encounters.

“The captaincy was an interesting debate, and if Jean hadn’t come through well this week we would have gone with Marco Wentzel as our captain. The other guys in the mix were Frans Steyn and Ryan Kankowski. I am sure Frans will lead the side again at some stage soon, but given the controversy around him this week we felt it was the wrong time to shoulder him with the extra burden of captaincy,” Gold said.

There was advance notification of Lambie, scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and flank Marcell Coetzee being rested this weekend and their replacements are Steyn, who will bring just as much presence to the number 10 jersey, Conrad Hoffman and Deysel.

The powerful Andre Esterhuizen comes in for Steyn at inside centre.

Deysel will be playing blindside flank with Renaldo Bothma shifting to openside.

With so many first-choice players out, the back-up players now have the chance to state their worth.

“Having to make so many changes is challenging, there is no doubt about that, but at the same time it is exciting as we have a lot of depth to our squad and this is a chance for us to see what the players who might not usually get an opportunity do in a big game. This is a chance for us to look at our depth, to assess what we have available,” Gold said.

Team: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-JP Pietersen, 12-Andre Esterhuizen, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Francois Steyn, 9-Conrad Hoffmann, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Jean Deysel, 6-Renaldo Bothma, 5-Marco Wentzel, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Kyle Cooper, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Monde Hadebe, 17-Thomas du Toit, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20-Daniel du Preez, 21-Stefan Ungerer, 22-Fred Zeilinga, 23-Waylon Murray.

More relief than elation for Gold as Sharks bounce back 0

Posted on August 26, 2015 by Ken

 

There was more relief than elation for Cell C Sharks coach Gary Gold after his team bounced back from an opening loss to secure an impressive bonus-point win over the Emirates Lions  in their weekend SuperRugby match at Kings Park.

“I think relief is the word, it’s certainly not a big celebration. It’s such early days now, you can throw all these cliches around and say you move on from a loss like last week. But you don’t really move on from a loss like that. It was disappointing and really it was our own fault.

“We didn’t perform well enough last week, so it was weighing heavily on our minds. That’s the psychological challenge you have as a coach, it’s hopefully to give the players confidence that they’re good enough and they can come back from something like that,” Gold said after the Sharks’ 29-12 triumph.

The scrum was the outstanding facet of play for the Sharks, with the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, showing their class and being ably assisted by loosehead Dale Chadwick as the highly-rated Lions set-piece was dismantled.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann pinpointed Bismarck du Plessis’ return at hooker for the dramatic improvement in the Sharks scrum.

“Bismarck made the big difference there,” said Ackermann. “He outsmarted our young front row and was exceptional. Those scrum penalties against us were very disappointing, we are far better than that, but credit must go to the Sharks.”

For the Sharks to score four tries in sodden conditions that almost saw the game postponed was also highly impressive and Gold admitted it was far more than he had hoped for.

“I didn’t ever imagine we would score four tries in those conditions, but I’m very grateful it did end up that way. I thought we managed the game well to be able to keep the momentum that got us to those opportunities that led to the tries.

“I was happy with the urgency and the general play all round. So I’m very proud of the performance,” Gold said.

The former Springbok forwards coach also praised Bismarck du Plessis for his display, especially since his shoulder is still troubling him.

“His presence was a factor, there’s no doubt about it, because we know what a world-class player he is for so many reasons. He threw into the lineouts particularly well today, he led the team well and obviously he stabilised our scrum,” Gold said.

Other high points for the Sharks were the burgeoning relationship between halfbacks Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach, which looked a marriage made in heaven in conditions in which their tactical play was always going to be vital.

Lambie made liberal use of the crosskick to set up two of the Sharks’ tries, while opposite number Marnitz Boshoff failed to adapt his game-plan to the wet conditions, and the superb displays of the Du Plessis brothers, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, Reinach and Lambie are surely not going to go unnoticed by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer with the World Cup in the northern hemisphere later this year.

 

 

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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